If you haven’t yet implemented superset workouts into your fitness program you are leaving out some pretty good stuff. The benefits of superset workouts are crazy good, more on that in a minute. If you aren’t familiar with supersets, I’m happy to explain.
What is a Superset?
A superset is simply the action of performing two exercises back to back with no rest period in between. This increases the intensity of your workout since you’re going from one move to another without resting first. You might choose to do two exercises that work opposing muscle groups (biceps/triceps, hams/quads) or exercises that target the same muscle group. There are also “giant sets” which typically involves doing 3 exercises back to back. This type of superset is common in the Body Beast home fitness program.
1. Speed up workout time. While not the most important benefit, it is nice to be able to speed up a workout, particularly when you’re crunched for time. Supersets allow you to get through your workout very quickly without skipping exercises.
2. Burn more calories. When doing supersets, you’re essentially doing double the work in the same amount of time that it would take you to do a straight set but you’re working through the usual rest period. With supersets you rest only after the superset is completed (not in between 2 straight sets). The intensity of your workout is increased which will help you burn more calories.
3. Raise growth hormone levels. Women do not carry as much testosterone in their bodies as men. This is the biggest reason why men typically have more muscle mass and why women tend to have more body fat. Men and women rely on growth hormones for muscle growth and recovery though women rely on them much more heavily. Increasing muscle mass is what will help your body to burn more fat and get lean. The GH levels increase following a weight training workout and actually increase even further following superset workouts. GH will trigger the release of fat cells which then travel to the muscles to be burned and used as energy. The perfect recipe for fat loss.
4. Great for cardiovascular health. While supersets during strength training workouts shouldn’t be a replacement for cardio, it definitely brings the cardio into weightlifting!
Tips for Successful Superset Workouts
To get even more from your superset workouts there are some important things to know. These tips will help you get the most from your supersets.
- You may need to drop the weight. If you’re used to lifting heavier, you might need to decrease the weight used if you’re doing supersets. Your muscles are going to tire more quickly and may not be able to lift as much as when you do straight sets.
- Increase rest period. Although you aren’t going to rest until a superset is completed, you’ll need to rest a bit longer than you normally would. This will give your muscles the time they need to replenish the energy required to perform the supersets successfully. Aim for no more than 1 to 2 minutes of rest.
- Change the order. It’s important to change the order in which you do the superset exercises. For example, if you’re doing a superset with opposing muscle groups (say, the hams and quads), don’t always do the hamstring exercise first. Alternate and do the quadriceps exercise first from time to time to balance things out a bit.
- Minimize time. When you’re performing a superset you should move from one exercise to the next with no rest. The only “rest” time you’ll experience is the time it takes you to go from one exercise to the next. After you’ve completed the superset, then it’s time to take a little rest. The faster you’re able to switch from one exercise to the other, the more benefit you’ll get from utilizing the superset training technique.
For a more in-depth look at supersets, I invite you to check out Jim’s Weight Training Guide, Superset Style! by James Atkinson.
Adding supersets into your workout not only gets you out of the gym faster (saving you time) but you’re also upping the intensity and benefits to your cardiovascular health at the same time.
That’s a win-win!